Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Jim Small of organic yogurt outfit Cyclops has pretty much single handedly grabbed the recycling industry by the short and curlies.

No small number of intelligent yogurt munchers have coerced all five Auckland councils collect "5" or "PP" plastic with curbside recycling.

Cyclops have now teamed up with Commonsense Organics to spread the recycling love to Wellington.

Here in Wellie all you need to do is take your clean, de-labelled "5" plastic to any of the four Commonsense stores. They'll take any "5" plastic. Any. So long as it's clean. High five!

But logistically that's not the end. Like glass recycling, the stuff has to get to Auckland... being the considerate company they are, Cyclops will even do that for you. Cyclops and Commonsense. Two brands winning hearts and minds.

In a similar vein, they're celebrating the polar fleece with a party tomorrow (Thurs) night at Good Luck. Seriously. A good reason to celebrate. And a good reason to catch The Bonnie Scarlets.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


...more fossil fuel than the US. Now their co2 emissions are the largest of any country on the planet.

At the start of June China announced their first climate policy. They did of course warn that "developed powers bear the most blame for the climate crisis" and it won't "sacrifice economic growth".

China's relentlessly strong economic growth is of course fuelled by coal, and to a lesser extent by hydro projects.

Burning more coal to generate more electricity has China in a ridiculous Russian doll situation. Greater energy demand requires more generating plants which require masses of concrete which itself requires a hugely energy intensive manufacturing process. China produces 44% of the worlds cement and its production contributes 9% of their co2 emissions.

It's not all bad. For "us" that is. Chinese emissions per capita are crazy-low, and they tend to do a lot of our dirty work.

In anticipating the emission topping antics, Reuters pointed out in March that "much of the growth in China's emissions is to produce goods consumed in the West, raising ethical questions over who bears responsibility for those emissions."

And lucky-for-us, as a centrally planned system, the Chinese are "willing" to self-inflict hardship in order to improve. For example energy police will soon patrol big buildings to ensure aircon is set to a bit nippy in winter and bloody stuffy in summer.

According to the quite brilliant SEED magazine, China is also embarking on a green revolution. "The litany of environmental challenges that China faces is shocking." The onslaught from dead rivers and dustbowl deserts has prompted a pro environment response of mind boggling proportions.

:: Seventy percent of China's energy comes from coal, but by 2020 they want to double renewable energy generation to 15%.
:: 35 million solar water heating units have been or will soon be installed.
:: In Beijing the authorities took "26,000 heavily polluting minibuses off the road in a week... They cut the pollution by 6 percent".
:: The 2008 Olympic village will feature a $4.7 million solar energy system to provide heat and hot water to 16,000 people.

If Chinese leaders continue this way, it seems the economic wonderkid may not become an environmental basket case.

We have the choice of grimacing at the fact that China rules the world, or of contributing and learning from their need to clean up. There may just be a bob or two in the latter.

Monday, June 18, 2007


On Thursday we see the shortest day. In the north of course it's longest day. This years solstice also heralds half time for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

In 2000 the UN agreed that a range of sustainable development goals would be reached by 2015. Areas like health, education, and the environment were targeted for improvement.

Are we on track? The odds are very long indeed according to these World Bank charts.

A few weeks back the G8 met and discussed how to commit to committing to earlier commitments. They "reaffirmed their commitment to continue to scale up their efforts towards... the Millennium Development Goals".

"Their commitment" is commonly judged in dollars and pressured by the likes of Make Poverty History and the Point Seven campaign.

Last year saw official development assistance from OECD countries fall by 5%. Considering the fact that nearly 20% of ODA was debt relief it's appalling.

The happy story is that although New Zealand ODA last year was the same as for 2005, this years budget gave a 21% increase.

As you haul yourself past the depths of winter later this week, consider your contribution to the other half of people on our planet who live on under $2 per day.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


These guys pricked my attention because they appeared (apparently) on a Spike Milligan show in the 60's.

Spike was politically correct long before PC-ness eroded the foundations of British humour. You can almost sense a bit of Milligan in this clip...


Consumerism run amok hasn't graced the ShoppingFix screen in a while. And this one probably deserves different treatment.

Paul McCartney has done so much for music that according to Toronto's NOW Magazine, "whether the music is exciting or relevant to anyone but himself probably isn't a big concern". 41 albums (not incl. Beatles) is enough to make anyone tired.

This one star review is here for a few reasons. NOW call it "insipid" and "soulless", but the Guardian call it almost perfect. A Brit vs. a Canadian perspective?

Another reason is that it's 40 years since The Beatles' Sgt. Peppers album. In 1977, 87, and 97 McCartney released questionable stuff (although his '97 effort was a classical album).

Is the current schtik merely what's expected on a major anniversary?

Thursday, June 14, 2007


Last month the Times (UK) went all OTT on the whole carbon footprint thing by pushing a low carbon diet.

Our own MoT have come up with something similar in urging better driving practices, but The Times are relentless. They've even produced a carbon diet master plan (210kb pdf). There's some pretty useful facts and figures - for instance the average Brit spits out 10 tonnes of co2 p.a.

If you're likely to be enticed by "fancy making yourself slimmer and fitter?" you ought to check the journo's 40 something white middle class blog too.

If not then run an eye down our links on the right hand panel. Or if you're not into the whole brevity thing take a good browse through the posts here at ShoppingFix. You'll find a pile of handy practical resources - and even a laugh or two.

Friday, June 08, 2007


Following up on Sundays "...carbon ...breath" post, the Wellington City Council last night agreed to "recommendations that will see the Council and the city embark on a path to carbon neutrality."

Over at WellUrban there's a little pre decision context for the Councils' aspiration - including a call "not to be too cynical". Yesterday however, the contents of my mailbox introduced a little cynicism. ShoppingFix was declined funding by the councils environmental grants sub-committee.

When the council states "...consumer choice, transport methods and innovation all have a place in how Wellington achieves carbon neutrality", one wonders why our sustainable shopping resource has no fit.

We were criticised for having no "clear standards and... monitoring process", and for proposing a process that would see "certain businesses being promoted over others".

The ShoppingFix concept of stakeholder accountability rather than traditional standards was lost on the committee. As was the logistical difficulty in engaging with every Wellington retailer simultaneously. While reading the committees decision I wondered just how the Council chose the paper supplier that ultimately enabled them to advise us of their decision. Will hypersensitivity toward nepotism prevent Council from engaging with the logistics of carbon neutrality?

There is of course a hint of sour grapes in my tone. The ShoppingFix application was not articulate enough. Given that we're angling heavily at Councils recognition of "consumer choice... and innovation" as key pillars for carbon neutrality we need to communicate our concept better.

Council staff have until September to "suggested projects and initiatives that could support" options for emissions reductions. The ShoppingFix concept will be suggested to staff as one such initiative.

Thursday, June 07, 2007


A fairly tenuous link to sustainability here. But how's this: sustainable communities are happy ones and in South America football and happiness walk hand in hand.

So when the exceptionally rational folk around the FIFA board table decided football at altitude is unhealthy, Andean happiness was at stake. Bolivia's populist President Morales has vowed to fight the FIFA ban that's been slapped on cities higher than 2,500m.

As the table below shows, Bolivia and Ecuador are hardest hit. Contractors in Cochabamba are laughing though - they've hit up the council to dig a 59m hole in the square. Which will make quite a handy distraction from the annoying coca barricades.

Back in the day I attempted playing football in San Juan on the Bolivian altiplano. At 4,000 odd metres it was tough. But that was probably because I've no talent and the locals had been acclimatising for a few years.

Ellis Park in Johannesburg sits at 1,750m. It's not a favourite for the All Blacks and I'm sure that the win loss record for South African rugby teams there is better than at their other stadiums. But 1,750m is a big difference from 2,500m. Maybe Blatter has a point.

Morales has a point too. His is stronger and FIFA IS being discriminatory. What's more you can't send every international played in Bolivia to Santa Cruz. They don't even have real seats in their taxi's.

Seriously, FIFA, please! Get real.

Sunday, June 03, 2007


It's hardly the Oxford Union Debate, but Wellington City Council will on Thursday discuss whether they'll aspire to be carbon free.

Although it's merely an aspiration, if set it'll place our fair city on a path that brings carbon accountability into all WCC policy. Although council emissions increased more than 8% in the three years to 2006, they've some handy emission reduction initiatives.

Kai to Compost has shown that commercial food waste can be dealt with - reducing dangerous methane landfill emissions. The programme just needs to scale up. They're also making a significant planting contribution on Arbor Day.

Other cities have stuck their neck out
:: Newcastle (UK) aspires to carbon neutrality
:: Norman Foster is to design waste and carbon free Madsar in the middle east
:: In February the Chinese government unveiled grand plans for an island near Shanghai
:: Malmo in Sweden is also on a carbon neutral path

This weeks meeting is a step in the right direction for Wellington. Can we walk the talk?


Many who peddle electronics have cleaned up their act. Still, many technology companies have been accused of greenwashing.

Saturdays DomPost has a handy green electronics article strangely positioned within the indungence supplement (not online). The article refers to the March review of consumer electronics undertaken by Greenpeace.

Little known Lenovo rank 1 and good old Apple have dug in at last place.

Article recommendations from an energy efficiency perspective include:
:: Use rechargeable batteries
:: Go laptop over desktop
:: LCD beats CRT

On the waste side of things the usual no-brainers apply; avoid excess packaging and use recycled paper. But this little gem snuck in late: "Vodafone recycles the plastics in its phones as orange traffic cones". Nice.